Noble Energy posts decrease in profit for first quarter

Houston-based oil and natural-gas producer Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) posted a profit of $200 million during the first quarter, a decrease compared with $261 million for the same period a year ago.

Noble Energy, which drills for oil and gas in Weld County, posted $1.38 billion in first-quarter revenue compared with $1.14 billion during the same quarter last year. The company’s lower earnings stemmed from higher expenses during the first quarter.

However, the company posted adjusted earnings per share of 82 cents, above analysts’ expectation of 74 cents, according to analyst firm Stern Agee Group Inc. in New York City.

Noble Energy reported average daily sales volumes of 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in Northern Colorado during the first quarter amid severe winter weather and facility upgrades.

The company averaged 286,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day during the first quarter, a 16 percent increase from the 246,000 barrels it posted during the first quarter of 2013.

Also during the first quarter, Noble Energy executed sales agreements of its smaller holdings in Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming and other states. The company anticipates closing an agreement to sell its assets in China in the middle of the year.

This year, Noble Energy plans to increase the number of extended-lateral wells in the D.J. Basin to more than 96 from an original plan to drill 58 of these longer horizontal wells.

The decision to drill the longer horizontal wells follows positive production results from these kinds of wells in the region, chief executive Chuck Davidson said in an earnings conference call. The wells recover more than double the amount of oil and gas than a standard-length well.

“This is a major acceleration of value to Noble in the basin,” Davidson said.

The company will run 10 rigs in the D.J. Basin through the second quarter, though one of the rigs will move to northeast Nevada in the third quarter.

Noble Energy also drills oil and gas wells in the Marcellus shale formation in the East, Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Mediterranean and West Africa.

During the second quarter, the company believes it will average sales volumes between 290,000 and 296,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. For the year, Noble Energy projected an average daily sales volumes of between 302,000 and 310,000 barrels of oil equivalent.

Noble Energy gained less than 1 point to trade at $75.21 Thursday afternoon.

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